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Mastering Stress for Children and Parents
Stuart Shanker Ph.D.
This distinction between maladaptive and mindful modes of self-regulation is of the utmost importance when working with children with ADHD.
How can we help a child with a kindled math alarm? How can we prevent this from happening in the first place?
Children are going into fight-or-flight at the mere thought of doing math. Self-regulation helps us to understand why this is happening and what we might do about it.
Math shouldn’t be seen as just a tool, or a compulsory subject. It is an enriching mental experience.
Self-Reg helps us to understand when and why perseverance turns into something vastly different, with far from salutary effects.
When we measure a child’s “intelligence,” the score we arrive at is a product of the interaction between thinking processes and limbic brakes.
Are children and teens “mentally lazy”? Is it a generation that would rather play than study, or one whose “limbic braking system” is affecting their ability to think and learn?
The better we can recognize which state teens are in, rational or limbic, the better we can understand and respond to what they are saying and doing.
Now more than ever we need to find peace: with each other and not just alone. Our need for peace is as much neurobiological as it is psychological.
Lying is the quintessential example of misbehaviour, but confabulating is a stress behaviour.
Parents need to understand what their child’s limbic system is “telling” them. And when they’re able, children and teens need to do the same.
How do we break out of a stress cycle? Harry Potter holds some clues. Lumos Solem is actually a pretty good motto for this process.
Stress cycles are impervious to ordinary self-help tips. Like “Devil’s snare”, the more you struggle the harder they grip. So it’s essential to understand when you’re caught in one
So much of the behaviors we see in children today seems inexplicable until we realize that we are dealing with the effects of excessive stress.
Self-Reg is a powerful method for understanding stress and managing energy—and it is very different from self-control. We can all break the stress cycle and live successfully.
Stuart Shanker, Ph.D., is a Professor Emeritus of philosophy and psychology at York University and author of Self-Reg and Calm, Alert and Learning.